Paula Groothuis is a published poet who is a Speech Therapist by trade. Paula understands the power of words since she has had an affinity for rhyming ever since she was a teenager. Her skills have led her to establish a small business creating personalized poems.

As a speech therapist who primarily works with young special needs' children, Paula has penned several books that were specially developed to help the children improve their vocabulary. In 1998, she self-published her first book of poems titled "A Clearer Reflection" which was edited and reprinted in 2016.

Paula is now writing a sequel called "The Same You,

A Different View" and she recently discussed her career and her beliefs about the power that words have.

Words, poems, and speech

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get into poetry and why do you think your rhyming skills blossomed so much when you were a teenager?

Paula Groothuis (PG): As a teenager, I felt like thank you notes were all the same and kind of 'boring'. I started rhyming my thank you notes and enjoyed it. As a parent at the end of my PTA presidency, I rhymed my final speech as I said thank you and good-bye to the parents and teachers.

Shortly after, I received a call from a parent I did not know well who asked me if I could write a poem to honor a friend and she would pay me.

Pay me for a rhyme? It then motivated me to put an ad in a local newspaper and the business began! I then had a technology-savvy friend start my website.

MM: How and when did you decide to start you own verse company and what kinds of clients have you worked with?

PG: I got clients from Australia, Canada, and various states for rhyming birthday celebrations, anniversaries, retirement, baby showers, bridal showers, candle lightings...It is such a pleasure to meet with people who love the people they are talking about.

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I put together the information they give me regarding the chronology, characteristics, and hobbies of the person and write a poem around them. I then read it to them to make sure that I put the words together with the message that they want to get out there. If they need editing, I move on with that so that my clients are always happy with the final version.

MM: You work as a speech therapist, so what set you down that honorable career path?

PG: I began as a math major in college. I had not wanted to be a teacher in a classroom, so I didn't want to be a math teacher. But when I told Dad I wanted to go into finance/business, he said that it was not a field for a woman-that was way back in the '60's! Learning speech therapy sounded interesting, and I did enjoy the classes I tried, so that was the path I took. When I went back to work as my children got older, I loved working with children and helping them. To this day I love creating effective lessons to help the children move on with their articulation skills, vocabulary levels, social skills and expressing their ideas.

Books, vocabulary, and poetry

MM: You wrote books to help children improve their vocabulary, so how did that opportunity present itself and how did you find a publisher?

PG: I began by writing a rhyming book for social skills and improving self-esteem for the special need children that I worked with. One day, I happened to be at my exercise class where someone was selling her children's books. She told me about a self-publishing company and I called them and moved on with getting my rhyming messages published. The company is very supportive and makes it all pretty easy once my idea comes out. I now have six children's books out: "I'm OK"-self-esteem, "Vocabulary: Early History" (plus two more versions, one for hard of hearing and one for handicapped), "What Do I Want To Do?"-occupation vocabulary and "Peace In Our World"-motivated by the sad, violent news we hear and wanting to get a peace message out there.

A local councilman has actually honored me for that book! Most of my books deal with literacy topics including vocabulary themes and poetry.

MM: You recently released a book of poems and are working on a second one now, so what inspired the poems and how did you find a publisher?

PG: Many years ago, I had rhymed my emotions due to difficult situations in my life (I lost my Mom at a young age and had some trouble dealing with it, ended up divorced, etc.). I was actually dating someone years ago who wanted to get a book published and asked me to take a class regarding publishing. I did and ended up putting "A Clearer Reflection" together. Today, I am following up with "The Same You, A Different View" growing emotions and other rhymed thoughts.

MM: How do you find street fairs and similar events to promote your books?

PG: Author’s groups help get us out there at street fairs and in book signings at books stores. Also, I have had opportunities to read in schools and sell books there, and some schools have authors' night events as well.

MM: What have been the biggest rewards and highlights of your experiences as a poet?

PG: In one of the schools I was invited to present my books to groups. I gave some speeches about my history and read my books. I then ended up selling over 100 books from that experience! Being honored by the councilman in the Town of North Hempstead and reading in my grandson's class was also great. I was also honored to be asked by an adult company, ‘DivorceForce,’ to write for their website.

MM: As someone who works with words and speech, what do you think are the most important things people should know about the power that words have?

PG: To always be uplifting for others!